Horse News

More than 40 wild burros slaughtered in the Southern California desert; reward offered

LOUIS SAHAGUN as published on The

“It is one of the largest killings of its kind on public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management…”

Wild burros on a dry lake bed in the Silurian Valley in October 2014. Since May 2019, a total of 42 wild burro carcasses with gunshot wounds have been found along Interstate 15 near the California-Nevada state line.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

More than 40 wild burros have been found shot and killed along the Interstate 15 near the Nevada state line, Federal officials said on Friday, and they’ve offered a reward of up to $18,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

It is one of the largest killings of its kind on public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Southern California, officials said.

A total of 42 wild burro carcasses with gunshot wounds have been found in various states of decomposition near the freeway corridor through the Clark Mountain Herd Area managed by the Needles field office of the BLM.

“We will pursue every lead until we’ve arrested and prosecuted those responsible for these cruel, savage deaths,” said William Perry Pendley, the BLM’s Deputy Director for policy and programs, “and we welcome the public’s help to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice.”

Details about the ongoing investigation were scarce. However, BLM officials said the burros, including several juveniles, were shot in the neck with a rifle.

Some were brought down while drinking water in the Halloran Springs area.

Animal protection organizations said they were outraged by the slaughter and have contributed thousands of dollars to the reward…

…Burros are not native to the West’s deserts, but they became some its most valued resources: sure-footed in rugged terrain, capable of carrying heavy loads long distances, and withstanding extremes in temperatures of cold and heat.

In the 1920s and 30s, they were turned loose and replaced by Model-A Fords and other vehicles. Since then, they have multiplied without restraint with few predators to check their numbers.

With populations that doubled every four to five years, they’ve managed to survive by feeding on the sage and wild growth of the Mojave Desert.

By the 1950s, wanton slaughter of wild burros in California’s desert and mountains had reached such proportions that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pressed for legislation to protect the creatures from trigger-happy hunters.

One killing ground was Homewood Canyon, near Trona, about 240 miles northeast of Los Angeles, where the SPCA officials in 1953 reported a shocking scene: Over an area of 50 acres, they found 50 burro carcasses. Only a few had bullet holes in the head, indicating that most had been left wounded where they fell.

Today, the animals are protected from capture, branding, harassment or death under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which considers them an integral part of the natural system of public lands managed by the BLM.

Violations of the act are subject to a fine of up to $2,000, or imprisonment for up to one year, or both, for each count charged.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the WeTip hotline at (800) 782-7463 or visit

30 replies »

  1. Just like our wild horses – Multiplied without restraint. Odd how that description pops up with “unwanted” species, isnt it?

    “Since then, they have multiplied without restraint with few predators to check their numbers.

    With populations that doubled every four to five years, they’ve managed to survive by feeding on the sage and wild growth of the Mojave Desert”

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Without restraint” is an odd characterization, since this indicates no burros have ever been rounded up and removed. It also implies there is no mortality of any sort, though one of the repeated justifications given for removals is highway accidents. Also note they mention “few predators” but not that the reason there are few is that we pay Wildlife Services to kill millions every year.

      Numbers I’ve seen on this site and elsewhere indicate there are only a few thousand wild burros in our entire country. This article paints yet another tired picture of rampant overpopulations when in truth most herds are at or below genetic viability populations.

      On a darker note, it’s only a matter of time before someone who is practicing on animals aims their sites on people, folks. We need a much harsher and effective response to these killings than in the past. This is everyone’s problem now — we’ve had more mass shootings of people in this country this year than we have had days.

      Devaluing life devalues ALL life.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Most wild horse and/or burro shootings go unsolved and thus result in no prosecutions. A few year years ago SIX legally protected wild burros were killed by a member of a local rancher family near Austin Nevada (Hickison HMA). He was arrested and although he ADMITTED THAT HE KILLED SIX burros a “deal” was made between him and the BLM and he eventually pled guilty to killing only ONE burro and the charges against him were dropped for the killing of the other five burros. The killer faced a potential 6 years in prison, and a $12,000 fine but because his family was well connected and because he made the deal with the BLM, eventually his sentence included only one year of probation, a $2000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Although the laws states that “If convicted … the perpetrator may be subject to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year for EACH violation”, this killer got away with only a slap on the wrist as his “punishment”. But the burros are still dead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That seems to be the end result in most cases of wild horse or burro killings. This agency thats supposed to “manage” these animals doesnt give a crap about them. I just wonder if the BLM believes that if the wild horses are finally eradicated – as they & the subsidized livestock community wish – will they still have a job? Because they not only do NOT manage the wild horses & burros – they dont manage the public lands or forests either. Removing all of our natural resources – the forests, oil, gas, plus the more important wild animals – whats left? It would appear they will eradicate their own jobs in the end.
      A better goal would be to eradicate the BLM, and at this point, the Forest Service while our wildlife & its habitat still partially exist!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Community service????? I can’t imagine what. There was a similar case in the news recently where an admitted killer of a wolf made the same kind of deal to avoid jail times. Just keep them away from animals – a community service would be to jail them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. High Above, Drones Keep Watchful Eyes on Wildlife in Africa

    Since taking over operations here, the group has confiscated upwards of 18,000 illegal snares, made over 100 arrests, installed more than 60 miles of electric fencing and removed 261 elephants to another reserve.

    But African Parks also has embarked on an unusual high-tech experiment, calling in a drone team from South Africa. With funding from the World Wildlife Fund, including a $5 million grant from Google, drones are being tested here in the first systematic evaluation of their potential to combat poachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Must be the US doesnt feel it necessary to use high-tech in protecting wildlife here. And our wild horses & burros ARE wildlife! Considering the number of drones owned by individuals with it appears no kind of registration or oversight – how hard could it be to make them available for doing something good?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not as hard as providing inexpensive (and live) webcams at roundup and holding sites, which remains too complicated for our public servants, and would of course provide too much public value. In all the endless requests for more money this never seems to even make the list, though it would be inexpensive, useful, and provide accountability that doesn’t otherwise exist.


      • And there is no reason what so ever that Go-Pro video can’t be taken during BLM’s aerial flights … except that it would prove that the wild horse and burro population counts are completely bogus … and of course that would then not only prove their census fraud but would cut back on their district and field office funding because it would then be proven that there are no “excess” wild horses and burros on their legal herd area lands which is the entire bottom line of the entire mis-management of our wild horses and burros.



    Direct Reduction

    While supporters of the Act have often rallied against the hidden illegal slaughter and treatment of our now supposedly protected equines, the killing of America’s wild burros through “direct reductions programs” have often continued unabated through government agencies armed with the exclusively reserved right to put a bullet in our burros were they stood.

    Despite this charge, the Secretaries have served at the pleasure of those who exploit our resources, not our laws or their intent, diligently working on ways to circumvent the political process and instead, exercising their authority to “legitimize” the corruption and corrosion of these mandates.

    One of the many ways this was accomplished was through the institution of separate agency “missions” place under their jurisdiction that allowed national laws to be divided, segregated and ultimately usurped.

    Enter National Park Service (NPS), established through the 1916 Organic Act under the mandate “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations

    Yet NEW POLICIES – NOT LAWS – aimed at promoting “other agendas” began to be instituted, until finally, the Secretary of the Interior successfully shirked their charge of protecting wild horses and burros and their habitat through a total reversal that allowed National Park Service and other agencies to literally shoot them by the thousands if they had the unfortunate luck to reside on the wrong side of the jurisdictional tracks.

    According to Deanne Stillman’s article, The Last Burros of the Mojave Desert, from 1987 to 1994, National Park Service shot 400 burros in Death Valley, CA with plans to accelerate these direct reductions in 1994 when a status change placed Death Valley under NPS sole jurisdiction.

    For a glaring expose on what and how “direct reductions” of wild burros are being secretly carried out, visit American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Death of a Mojave National Preserve Burro by J. & K. Foster. (photo no longer on website)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Burros were killed in Big Bend National Park by the NPS as well, in the adjacent Big Bend Ranch State Park:

      “The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Tuesday that it will suspend the killing of burros in the park and work with the Humane Society of the United States to find nonlethal methods of removing the animals. The Humane Society will conduct an aerial survey this spring to determine the size and location of the park’s burro population. TPWD will contribute up to $10,000 toward the assessment.”

      Does anyone know if HSUS ever completed this 2012 survey or publish the results?

      Liked by 1 person

    • And a reminder, those “missions” can be freely changed, as happened recently with the BLM mission statement, which dropped out the reference to conservation for our future generations: (copied here for posterity as it may disappear yet again):

      “The way the Bureau of Land Management is presenting itself to the press and world under the Trump administration is reflecting a focus on exploiting and extracting resources from federal lands, rather than stewardship and conservation. The latest example appears on the Bureau of Land Management’s press releases this week. At some point, a sentence was quietly taken out of the mission statement, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

      First reported in the Huffington Post, here’s the sentence that was snipped out of the middle of the long-standing mission statement on the boilerplate:

      “The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

      Before the cut, the text on press releases was as follows:

      The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $96 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2017. These activities supported more than 468,000 jobs.”

      So, as you can see, somebody was instructed to take out the offending sentence about sustaining the land for future generations. Now, what’s left is a focus exclusively on money and jobs. This coincides nicely with the administration’s push for “a new National Park Service (NPS) infrastructure fund paid for with money from oil drilling, wind, solar and other federal energy sources.”

      The Huffington Post noted that conservationists were not happy about the changes from Trump and the latest Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist.

      Aaron Weiss, media director at Colorado-based conservation group c, called the change “a perfect representation” of how Trump and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt view America’s public lands.

      “In their world, our lands are only here for exploitation and financial gain, not protection and preservation,” Weiss told HuffPost. “Bernhardt’s clients profit; our kids and grandkids pay the price.”

      A review by the Center for Western Priorities found that David Bernhardt has hidden at least 45 meetings with drilling, mining, water, and other industry groups from the public, many of which overlap with Bernhardt’s work as a former lobbyist and lawyer.

      — Western Priorities (@WstrnPriorities) April 11, 2019

      Outside Online noted that, for now, the original sentence remains on the BLM’s “Our Mission” page. At any moment, it seems likely to disappear.

      The BLM has raised eyebrows with branding efforts before. In March 2018, the federal agency’s then-acting director Mike Nedd commissioned badges called “vision cards” for employees. Handed out at the start of Trump’s administration, the badges featured an image of an oil rig under the mission statement about protecting the land for future generations.

      The reverse side featured language about “excellence in business practices” and to improve “accountability to our stakeholders, and deliver better service to our customers.”

      BLM “vision cards” via Outside Online

      BLM “vision cards” via Outside Online

      Outside Online noted:

      “It’s not clear what they mean by customers, but recent history suggests it may mean extractive industries.”

      The year before, the Trump administration slashed Bears Ears National Monument at the urging of oil and mining interests, ignoring conservation groups, recreational users, and local tribes. It was part of the largest reduction of national monuments in American history, carving a collective 2 million acres from a pair of protected sites in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

      Given Trump’s executive order to roll back Obama’s climate change policies and start an “energy revolution” prioritizing coal instead, it seems fitting that BLM changed a banner on its homepage to a giant slab of coal in April 2017. A caption read, “large coal seam at the Peabody North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming” when users hovered over the image.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Icy. Before it disappears, I hope you have copied and saved a screen shot of the original mission statement that includes “future generations”.

        As you included, this pretty much sums it up … ““In their world, our lands are only here for exploitation and financial gain, not protection and preservation,” Weiss told HuffPost. “Bernhardt’s clients profit; our kids and grandkids pay the price.”


      • Here’s the statement on the BLM website today (it sounds like Zinke’s work so may change now Bernhardt is in charge, so I copied it here for future reference):

        Our Mission

        The Bureau of Land Management’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

        A Multiple-Use and Sustained Yield Mission

        Congress tasked the BLM with a mandate of managing public lands for a variety of uses such as energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting while ensuring natural, cultural, and historic resources are maintained for present and future use.

        This multiple-use approach enables our agency to prioritize and advance the President’s priorities which include energy independence, shared conservation stewardship, keeping our borders safe, putting Americans back to work, and serving the American family.

        To do this, we manage public lands to maximize opportunities for commercial, recreational, and conservation activities. This promotes healthy and productive public lands that create jobs in local communities while supporting traditional land uses such as responsible energy development, timber harvesting, grazing, and recreation, including hunting and fishing.

        Learn more about our multiple-use approach.

        Your Public Lands

        The public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are owned by all Americans and contain some of the nation’s most spectacular landscapes that range from Alaska’s North Slope to the Florida Keys. America’s public lands are used for a variety of purposes and encompass large expanses of rangelands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, and deserts.

        Our vision

        To enhance the quality of life for all citizens through the balanced stewardship of America’s public lands and resources.

        Our Values

        To serve with honesty, integrity, accountability, respect, courage, and commitment to make a difference.

        Our Guiding Principles

        To improve the health and productivity of the land to support the BLM multiple-use mission.

        To cultivate community-based conservation, citizen-centered stewardship, and partnership through consultation, cooperation, and communication.

        To respect, value, and support our employees, giving them resources and opportunities to succeed.

        To pursue excellence in business practices, improve accountability to our stakeholders, and deliver better service to our customers.
        Secretary’s 10 Priorities

        Create a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt.
        Sustainably develop our energy and natural resources.
        Restore trust and be a good neighbor.
        Ensure tribal sovereignty means something.
        Increase revenues to support the Department and national interests.
        Protect our people and the border.
        Strike a regulatory balance.
        Modernize our infrastructure.
        Reorganize the Department for the next 100 years.
        Achieve our goals and lead our team forward.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The Last Burros of the Mojave Desert:
    By Deanne Stillman
    12/24/2006 Updated May 25, 2011

    The time has come to speak of the animals in attendance at the nativity, especially the burro, the stubborn, steadfast, and hardy little four-legged who has served us well through the ages, with barely a tip of the hat in the annals. It was a burro that carried Mary and Joseph to the stable where Christ was born, a burro that carried Christ into Jerusalem for one of his last acts, a burro that accompanied his followers into other empires and across time, finally helping trappers, prospectors, and soldiers make their way into the Old Testament scenery of the American West. Since then his descendants have lived in the desert, fending off predators, joy riders with guns, and government round-ups. But now the burros’ time in the Mojave may be coming to an end, because of a federal policy of “zeroing out” the herds in areas where other critters and half-baked attempts to manage water that has already been mismanaged have taken precedence.

    As I’ve written on this site, passage of the federal Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act in 1971 spearheaded by Wild Horse Annie did exactly that – but in spirit only. It gave authority for mustangs and burros to the Bureau of Land Management, which meant that other agencies such as the National Park Service could make their own policy towards these animals if they lived on NPS land.

    On January 19th, 2007, the burros that live in the Clark Mountains of the Mojave Desert – the last in that region – will be gone, taken in a federal round-up (in this case by the BLM, which manages the area in question), perhaps memorialized like Brighty in a statue at the Mojave National Preserve, which has now turned its sights on that particular herd, whose home turf is the highest peak in that part of the desert at 7929 feet.

    n 2005, another herd was taken off the preserve, and – according to the desert grapevine – two may have been shot in the process; there are photos of one burro with a bullet to the head circulating the ethers (although it’s not clear which round-up that came from) and another was allegedly run to the point of exhaustion and death – the rumor is that he died a very slow and painful death as the contractors may have stood by. Not surprising if true; I have heard of and been an eyewitness to a staggering amount of tax-subsidized government abuse before, during, and after round-ups of wild horses and burros.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one of the worst cases I have ever read or heard about. Shocking, even for animal rights and welfare advocates who see a lot. 😦

    Shocking what people are capable of.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On Sat, Aug 24, 2019 at 5:02 AM Straight from the Horse’s Heart wrote:

    > R.T. Fitch posted: “By LOUIS SAHAGUN as published on The “It > is one of the largest killings of its kind on public land managed by the > U.S. Bureau of Land Management…” More than 40 wild burros have been found > shot and killed along the Interstate 15 nea” >

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This does not surprise me since I once heard NPS state at a meeting that the best burro control was a bullet to the brain. Two years ago at a gas station on Cima Rd and I15 a local resident Highway Patrolman told me the same thing. The shit really began hitting the fan in Southern Ca. in 2001 with the passage of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Ca Desert Protection act and the subsequent resource management plans concocted by the Desert Managers Group, a coalition of NPS, BLM, USFS, State Parks, USFS, USFWS, CA Fish and Wildlife, and the Nature Conservancy. The plans were divided into districts called the CA Desert Conservation Areas. All districts closed historic public access and zeroed out wild horse and burro herd areas.
    Burro herd areas were transferred to the National Park Service and the Coyote Canyon Herd area was transferred to CA state Parks. Herd management areas were supposed to be re designated but the fact was that they were slated for removal under the guise of protecting the desert tortoise, and Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. For all of the atrocities committed NO LEGAL FIRMS will represent us in defense of our national treasures. I warn you…the pictures are graphic.
    BLM refused my FOIA requests, even Congressman Duncan Hunter’s requests, and again refused to accept my comments that necessitated amending the deficient RMPs i.e the DRECP Resource Management Plan amending the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) This is a major opportunity for a law firm to step in and represent the wild horse and burro interests.
    It is a crucial time for Senator Feinstein to step up the plate and make good her promises to protect the Mojave burros in a letter dated 2005

    Liked by 1 person

    • THANK YOU kats516. It’s bad enough for our wild horses but the burros have gotten such little public attention and have been so brutally abused at the hands of agencies that were supposed to protect them. It should be enough to make every Red Blooded American’s blood boil..but most don’t even know what happens in those remote areas.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These radio programs are archived and well worth taking the time to listen.

    Marjorie Farabee is the Director of Wild Burro Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation and the “Protector of All Things Burro”

    Marjorie Farabee on why Wild Burros are in Real Trouble, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 8/3/16)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excerpt from American Herds 2007

    The Clark Mountain burros were one of the oldest and most unique wild burro herds in America. Living in relative isolation for four centuries, their genetic tests revealed the herd had a “high proportion of rare variants”. Yet in January 2007, BLM issued the final orders for their permanent and irrevocable extermination.

    The Clark Mountain Herd Area is located in Mojave Desert in Southern California near the Nevada border. In 1994, with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act (CDPA), the burros only perennial water source was transferred to National Park Service (NPS) through the creation of the Mojave National Preserve. NPS then issued a General Management Plan declaring a zero burro management policy for the Clark Mountain wild burros. This transference of key habitat requirements such as water, access or land to other federal agencies not required to protect wild horses and burros is often found at the root of many herds being zeroed out and this trend has been accelerating.

    At the time of passage of the California Desert Conservation Area Plan in 1980, there were 19 recognized Herd Management Areas that could be managed for burros and 14 were officially designated for that purpose within the Conservation Area alone. The combined allowable population levels totaled 2,747 wild burros and their available habitat was 3,500,465 million acres. Today, this same area has had over a 90% reduction in both habitat and population with only two remaining burro herds and an “appropriate management level” of merely 229 burros confined to less than three hundred thousand acres. Though California was once home to one of the largest wild burro populations in the country, BLM only allows a paltry 345 burros or less throughout the entire state today.

    The Clark Mountain burros historic Herd Area was originally designated as 233,370 acres. Through BLM land use decisions and HMA designation, only 75,349 acres were deemed suitable for long-term management, a loss of 158,021 acres of habitat. Then BLM approved a provision that was slipped in the final plan of the 2002 NEMO Amendment to the CDCA that eliminated this last amount of acreage from any further use and this strategy effectively denied the public any right to appeal the decision. Two livestock allotments continue to operate in the area.

    Despite being one of the oldest, rarest and last herds left in Southern California, BLM admitted to both managing and rendering this historical population extinct.


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